Syriac Heritage Museum Opens First Virtual Exhibition on Women in Modern History

On Tuesday 9 July 2024, the US Consul General in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Mark Straw, opened the first real and virtual exhibition dealing with the topic of women in modern history, at the building of the Syriac Heritage Museum in Erbil’s Ankawa district. This was in the presence of the President of the Region’s Supreme Council for Women and Development, Dr. Khanzad Ahmed.

The exhibition, which will be available for visits until 18 July, deals with the biographies of four women from our people who played a prominent role in empowering and developing the role of women among our people in modern history. These are Surma Khanum, Maryam Nerma, Maria Therese Asmar, and Lillie Taimoorazy. Their three-dimensional statues, by artist Salam al-Banna, were displayed in the exhibition, in addition to two other figures representing women and activism, Margaret George and Josephine Warda, as well as female figures from among our people who dealt with women’s daily work in those days.

The Director General of Syriac Culture and Arts, Kaldo Ramzi Oghanna, confirmed that, “the exhibition is the first of its kind in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, and will connect our people in the diaspora with their motherland,” noting that, “the personalities displayed will be available on the museum’s website and can be viewed by the public and researchers.”

Oghanna pointed out that, “The exhibition highlights the role of Syriac women in the twentieth century, to be the beginning of important topics related to women and their role in our society,” noting that, “the exhibition came as a result of the efforts of two students from the American University of Dayton who worked to complete it under the supervision of Dr. Alda Benjamen.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Oghanna called for, “our work to serve as a starting point and a call to action for the preservation and digitisation of all documents related to indigenous and marginalised communities as well as women in Iraq and the Middle East.”

Following the Director General’s speech, the US Consul General in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Mark Straw, launched the exhibition’s website on the Internet, announcing that it was available to everyone. He then delivered his speech, in which he affirmed, “The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is working to preserve the heritage of minorities in Iraq.” He additionally pointed out that, “every visit we make to the Syriac Heritage Museum, we see a new achievement added to the work of the museum, which works in partnership with us, and it is a source of pleasure for all of us.”

The opening ceremony of the exhibition was attended by a number of priests, nuns of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and an elite group of intellectuals and those interested in women’s affairs in Ankawa and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

It is worth noting that the exhibition came within the project to preserve the cultural heritage of minorities in Iraq, which is implemented by the Syriac Heritage Museum of the General Directorate of Syriac Culture and Arts in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Antiquities Coalition.

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